PASADENA -- Every Rose Bowl has its thorn. That thorn tonight was the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Arizona State upset No. 20 ranked UCLA 42-23, marking their first win in the Rose Bowl since 2015 and advancing their conference record to 2-0 on the season.
UCLA moved the ball with tempo and efficiency in the first half, running a total of 48 plays in the opening half. While the Sun Devils defense was undoubtedly gassed after allowing back-to-back touchdowns early, ASU was able to hold the Bruins to a field goal or less on five of seven possessions in the first half.
With all the talk surrounding UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson heading into the matchup, ASU's Jayden Daniels made sure to quickly remind those watching of his prowess, hitting passes of 47, 65 and 54 yards in the first half, with the two latter being touchdowns to receiver Ricky Pearsall.
The first half featured a combined 47 points and 554 yards, setting the stage for a true Pac-12 shootout between the top two teams in the Pac-12 South division. With the lead changing a total of seven times in the first two quarters, it would have been fitting for the game to come down to the wire. But it didn't.
The Sun Devils led 24-23 at halftime, although the lead could have been larger. A flag for having 12 players on the field on ASU's special-teams unit on a fourth-and-6 punt led to UCLA gaining better field position for the Bruins, who ultimately went for it and ended up kicking a field goal later in the drive.
Return man D.J. Taylor also fumbled a punt with four seconds remaining in the half, with the Bruins recovering and quickly kicking a field goal unit to reach within one point of the game as the second quarter expired.
Momentum had appeared to be in favor of the Bruins heading into the second half despite being down. UCLA led the Sun Devils in time of possession, total yards, penalties, first downs, fourth-down conversions, two trips to the red zone, and the same amount of turnovers as ASU.
That momentum was quickly snatched by the Sun Devils on a 49-yard touchdown by running back Rachaad White to put Arizona State up by two possessions (thanks to a 2-point conversion) on their opening drive of the second half.
Down 32-23, the Bruins did show signs of life and responded by moving the chains, prior to a missed 39-yard field goal by Nicholas Barr-Mira.
The third quarter was largely back and forth with punts exchanged, although the very end of the period was met with drama. Sun Devils linebacker Kyle Soelle was ejected for targeting on what many would call debatable at best.
Following an injury to fellow ASU linebacker Darien Butler, the Bruins were within two yards of scoring before being stopped on fourth down. Freshman Eric Gentry was the man responsible for stopping Thompson-Robinson in the open field to keep UCLA out of the end zone on fourth down.
The Bruins finished the third quarter with four penalties for 49 yards, preventing any sort of strong start to the second half needed by UCLA to keep within striking distance.
The fourth quarter was Arizona State's for the taking, marching down the field on an 11-play, 96-yard drive that lasted 6:52 and was capped off by a White touchdown run. That put the Sun Devils ahead 39-23 with 6:43 remaining.
The Bruins were unable to save any face at the end of the game, ensuring ASU's upset looked clean both on the field and in the box score as well. UCLA was shut out in the second half,
Arizona State now sits atop the Pac-12 South, controlling their own destiny the rest of the way in hopes of finding a place in the conference championship game later in December.
The Sun Devils will face Stanford, which upset Oregon Saturday, at Sun Devil Stadium on Friday, Oct. 8.